DPChallenge: A Digital Photography Contest You are not logged in. (log in or register
 

DPChallenge Forums >> Business of Photography >> Real Estate Photography
Pages:  
Showing posts 1 - 15 of 15, (reverse)
AuthorThread
12/24/2013 05:23:45 PM · #1
Our real estate photography business is failing because these days most agents prefer to shoot their own listings. It's also becoming a popular secondary business for photographer/agents to shoot listings for other agents in their offices. And it has its advantages.. photographer/agents already have access to the listings so they don’t have to make arrangements to meet a photographer at the site. They’re already familiar w/the listing and know how they want it to look which eliminates having to follow a photographer around and explain each view. There was an article about this in Larry Lohrman’s site recently:

//photographyforrealestate.net/2013/12/15/what-about-being-a-real-estate-photographer-and-a-real-estate-agent/

12/24/2013 09:33:42 PM · #2
You made me curious so I took a peek at your website. Those shots are perfectly done. You balanced the indoor/outdoor light so nicely. If they were smart they'd continue to hire you.
12/25/2013 02:42:05 PM · #3
Thank you, Jay.. unfortunately, real estate agents are not the most discriminating bunch when it comes to marketing. They'd rather save a few bucks and shoot their own pics even if they're poor quality.
08/08/2016 06:00:58 PM · #4
Some basic things to look at perhaps you did but just in case.

Are your prices in line with competition?
Are you actively Marketing if so what methods?
01/18/2017 06:02:16 AM · #5
Its really unfortunate to hear this and hope the situation will change over times.
09/16/2018 07:58:49 AM · #6
If they prefer to shoot their own listings then you must prefer doing it finding more other agents which offers real estate photo retouching services in your area.
09/16/2018 12:04:39 PM · #7
When I was house hunting this time last year, we saw many examples of outrageously bad real estate photos in listings online, presumably taken by the agent (sometimes reflected in a wall mirror holding cell phone, sometimes presumably by the owner in sale by owner listings). The bad photos eliminated the properties from our shopping list even if the other specs met our criteria. Of course, the high end properties all still use professional photographers (and likely professional staging services as well).

For the middle of the market, I would expect real estate agents to cheerfully cut costs by doing the images themselves UNLESS they see a strong business case to use a professional. The high end folks already get it. Then the issue is how to demonstrate the value to others.

Would it be possible to do an analysis of properties with my photos compared to matched controls (price range, neighborhood, condition, …) that had photos taken by the agent? Did "my" properties sell quicker and for more? Do I have enough volume to make a contract with my fee partly affected by how fast the property sells or some other value parameter? Obviously lots of variables to consider, but businesses sometimes respond to pay-for-value deals. Could I be convincing if I were not selling photo services but instead began selling a service of how to make more money faster (even when subtracting the photography fee)? Not my realm, so just a thought experiment so far.

Message edited by author 2018-09-16 12:05:12.
09/16/2018 12:31:04 PM · #8
Originally posted by bob350:

When I was house hunting this time last year, we saw many examples of outrageously bad real estate photos in listings online, presumably taken by the agent (sometimes reflected in a wall mirror holding cell phone, sometimes presumably by the owner in sale by owner listings). The bad photos eliminated the properties from our shopping list even if the other specs met our criteria. Of course, the high end properties all still use professional photographers (and likely professional staging services as well).

For the middle of the market, I would expect real estate agents to cheerfully cut costs by doing the images themselves UNLESS they see a strong business case to use a professional. The high end folks already get it. Then the issue is how to demonstrate the value to others.

Would it be possible to do an analysis of properties with my photos compared to matched controls (price range, neighborhood, condition, …) that had photos taken by the agent? Did "my" properties sell quicker and for more? Do I have enough volume to make a contract with my fee partly affected by how fast the property sells or some other value parameter? Obviously lots of variables to consider, but businesses sometimes respond to pay-for-value deals. Could I be convincing if I were not selling photo services but instead began selling a service of how to make more money faster (even when subtracting the photography fee)? Not my realm, so just a thought experiment so far.


Excellent thoughts! It really highlights one of the primary keys to making a living at just about anything: the difference between selling the work (in this case, photography) or selling the solution (i.e., "can I help you make more money faster?"). When people focus on the work, the work becomes a price-driven commodity. When people focus on the solution, it becomes value-driven. It doesn't matter if you're selling hamburgers or legal services: there's a huge difference between "anyone can do that" and "wow, what a great solution!".
09/16/2018 09:51:27 PM · #9
Would like to know the solution(s) you elude to. In the area we cover many RE offices have in-house photographers and agents pay a $50/mo fee for the service which also includes drone photography. On the other hand, the MLS along with improved technology has made it easier for agents to shoot, edit and upload their own photos. An article recently pointed out that a lot of agents aren't making enough money selling homes so they're providing photography services to their colleagues to supplement their incomes. Every office has one or more agents who provide this service. Many were professional photographers prior to becoming RE agents. In fact, a friend of mine who got his RE license two yrs ago is also a photographer.

With the improved technologies and extended editing tools available via MLS sites such as Zillow, agents can do it all. The one thing we do provide that agents can't do themselves is pole aerials as it takes a degree of skill and know-how plus a cell phone application to accomplish these. It's the one thing we offer that agents can't do themselves. Pole aerials take the place of drone aerials in that they create an elevated view of the property but do not require a pilot's license to shoot. Pole aerials are appropriate for development homes where drone aerials are more geared to larger properties.

Message edited by author 2018-09-18 14:56:26.
09/18/2018 11:33:02 AM · #10
Would like to see more input from others who are business-savvy while keeping in mind that RE photography is not your average business model.
09/18/2018 11:17:07 PM · #11
Originally posted by digifotojo:

Would like to know the solution(s) you elude to. In the area we cover many RE offices have in-house photographers and agents pay a $50/mo fee for the service which also includes drone photography. On the other hand, the MLS along with improved technology has made it easier for agents to shoot, edit and upload their own photos. An article recently pointed out that a lot of agents aren't making enough money selling homes so they're providing photography services to their colleagues to supplement their incomes. Every office has one or more agents who provide this service. Many were professional photographers prior to becoming RE agents. In fact, a friend of mine who got his RE license two yrs ago is also a photographer.

With the improved technologies and extended editing tools available via MLS sites such as Zillow, agents can do it all. The one thing we do provide that agents can't do themselves is pole aerials as it takes a degree of skill and know-how plus a cell phone application to accomplish these. It's the one thing we offer that agents can't do themselves. Pole aerials take the place of drone aerials in that they create an elevated view of the property but do not require a pilot's license to shoot. Pole aerials are appropriate for development homes where drone aerials are more geared to larger properties.


you largely answered your question yourself ;-)

as with anything, there are people who get it, and those who don't. if you can have an intelligent conversation with someone about what they're trying to do and the challenges they face and then offer a means to help them overcome the challenges, you're talking to someone who gets it. as you point out, you're in a world where everyone can do it. so, how do you stand out? first consider your market: real estate agents. they have the same problem you do: trying to stand out in a deep sea of competition. what you have to do is to show the realtor how you can help them stand out in their crowd. it's a conversation that searches for ways you can put your skills and experience to work for them to help them be more successful. and typically, you find out pretty quickly if you're talking to someone who gets it or if you should simply move on.

another thing i'll point out that value-driven sales are based on relationships, and relationships take time.

09/19/2018 02:22:24 PM · #12
All valid points and worth considering. I think the hardest part about dealing with real estate agents is they're not professionals in the sense of a doctor, lawyer, or engineer. RE agents are just regular people who happen to provide a service to other regular people. So, you're not going to get the same reaction from every agent you encounter. However, one thing they have in common is they all want to save money (RE agents don't make a lot). And the first thing to get cut back is their advertising budget. This is why you see so many outrageously bad RE photos as Bob pointed out.

We had some regular clients who had a tendency to drive our price down by requesting less photos. Bottom line.. if the agent only wants to pay a fraction of what you normally charge it's not worth doing the job. RE agents are notoriously cheap. If you happen to find one that's not then you have a good client.

09/19/2018 03:00:49 PM · #13
As usual, Skip's advice is outstanding. I have no experience in real estate photography, but I can tell you that in *any* business, the question is always "what value am I adding for the customer."
Also, in our business (building custom actuation products) we have to look at our costs (the entire value stream) and assess whether we would have sufficient margin for a proposed product, given the necessary sale price. You're in the same spot. Once you know the value you are providing value to the real estate agent, you have a basis for pricing. Once you have that, you can compare to costs. Complete cost, including all inputs to the final product.
09/19/2018 05:02:51 PM · #14
Consider an oversimplified case for discussion. Suppose a real estate agent is involved with just one home sale every three months, which is eight sales per two years. Suppose each of these homes sell quickly for $400,00 after initially being listed slightly higher. Suppose a standard commission is 3% to this agent, or $96,000 across two years for the eight sales, before overhead. So the agent thinks about cutting overhead by $1,000 per sale to have $8,000 more take home money. Understandable. But it is easy to forget that reaching the desired outcome requires having the exact same volume of sales and the same sale prices.

My observation last year was that homes with terrible pictures tended to linger many months on the market at a time when other properties could sell within a few days of being listed. Longer time on market always came with price reductions before the sale finally happened, and some never did sell. Suppose the ending price with bad pictures (via lower overhead strategy) ends up at just 4% less, and that our agent misses out on just one sale per 2 year period (seven instead of eight so only $7,000 savings here). Now the 3% commission for the seven lower priced sales is $80,674, which is $15,326 less than with faster sales at higher prices. That reduction exceeds the nominal “savings” from reducing overhead. The end result is even worse if the delayed sales have even bigger price reductions. Or the perhaps the agent is indeed better off if the properties sell fast and at full price despite the pictures. What is the reality?

Would MLS (or other) data show that really good pictures result in faster sales at higher prices? Would inspection show that agent-produced photos are bad enough to have this adverse impact compared to professional photos? Money is tight and the data may not be obtainable. Certainly not an easy time for photographers in this specialty.
09/19/2018 05:31:11 PM · #15
The value we add for the customer, in this case the agent/realtor, is professional photography that helps sell properties faster. Some agents appreciate that whereas others cannot get past the idea that if they can do it themselves or get it for less it's a better deal. In order to understand the nature of RE photography you have to understand how agents/realtors think. More often than not, just getting the property listed ASAP is all that really matters.

Case in point, Zillow incorporated a perk for realtors wherein if they upload a walk-through video with their listing they'll get top billing. Agents love this but they're not videographers so walking through a property with an iphone may not create the best video but they don't care as long as they get top billing.

Another approach might be to offer something highly technical and unique like Matterport 3D which is becoming more popular but still unaffordable to the average photographer. If you have excess funds and can afford this cutting edge technology then go for it. Which brings up another interesting point. Real Estate is very location-oriented. West coast RE is totally different from east coast RE in fact, it's like two different worlds. The ideal scenario would be to relocate to an area where the real estate industry offers more opportunity than it does here. Since 2007 when we first got started shooting properties a lot has changed and it hasn't been particularly advantageous. But that's another story.

Pages:  
Current Server Time: 11/20/2018 09:29:07 PM

Please log in or register to post to the forums.


Home - Challenges - Community - League - Photos - Cameras - Lenses - Learn - Prints! - Help - Terms of Use - Privacy - Top ^
DPChallenge, and website content and design, Copyright © 2001-2018 Challenging Technologies, LLC.
All digital photo copyrights belong to the photographers and may not be used without permission.
Proudly hosted by Sargasso Networks. Current Server Time: 11/20/2018 09:29:07 PM EST.